An educational forest garden brimming with biodiversity in the city
Le Lieu Utile
Duration of the partnership
2022 - 2024
It is alarming to see biodiversity being lost in cities and the resulting threat to ecosystems. Soils are deteriorating, meaning that they can no longer be home to an abundance of flora and fauna. We therefore need to renature urban spaces. To do this, Le Lieu Utile (The Useful Place) has set up a city oasis in Bouguenais, a suburb of Nantes (Loire-Atlantique department, France).
By creating an educational forest garden with the help of children, families, and academic organisations and groups in the neighbourhood and wider city, this third place seeks to develop a relationship with nature that is more ecocentric, more sustainable and respectful for both humans and all living beings sharing their resources. The edible forest garden acts as a hub for a rich variety of biodiversity (flora, fauna and funga). This forest garden also aims to inspire similar projects, and serve as a source of information about nature that can be shared with others. Detailed guides and expansive educational kits are put together in order to gather and exchange knowledge on this forest that is teeming with biodiversity.
This forest garden has several branches to it. First of all, the association primarily focuses on strengthening the soil to make it more fertile. The edible forest garden is developed through permaculture, in order to provide meals to children attending Le Lieu Utile school. The garden is also used as an educational tool through workshops and volunteering events centred around planting, monitoring and maintenance. Additionally, it plays host to activities and training events about the city-based edible forest garden. The organisation behind the project seeks to create multicultural and intergenerational links between people. Finally, this forest garden requires daily management, which is carried out by specially trained teams on the ground.
The Maisons du Monde Foundation is supporting Le Lieu Utile with its goal of restoring its resilient educational food garden.
With the support of the Maisons du Monde Foundation, the project aims to help Le Lieu Utile to:
The direct beneficiaries of this project are the users of this forest garden (children of the school, these children’s parents and families, paid staff and the administrative workers and volunteers of the organisation), as well as the beneficiaries of the various workshops and planting projects.
Other beneficiaries include local supporters and partners in the neighbourhood and wider area, as well as children, families and supervisory staff from external early childcare facilities.
Le Lieu Utile’s approach is based on reviving biodiversity in cities and being able to bring together ecology and urban spaces by creating a resilient and autonomous space with fertile land at its core. Thanks to this unique space, plants have been reintroduced into the city, and other cities will be able to take inspiration from this process and replicate it in their own spaces.
« My favourite part is bringing together people from various backgrounds to try out, discover and enjoy sensory experiences, whether that be through volunteer projects, sampling nutritious food, contributing to a circular economy or preserving biodiversity. In a unique green setting that is listed as a bird refuge site by the LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux — the French bird protection society), these experiences bring about feelings of wonder, peace and hope. Nurturing the skills and goodwill to bind all living things together during this Anthropocene period will reap the rewards. Every single one of us holds a part of the solution ! »Florence Aussant Founder and Coordinator of Le Lieu Utile